Michael Higdon is set to complete a tailor-made fitness programme as Sheffield United attempt to ensure the former NEC Nijmegen centre-forward is perfect shape to spearhead their attack next season, writes James Shield.
Higdon, who is set to make his debut for Nigel Clough’s side during Saturday’s League One opener against Bristol City, acknowledged he has “some catching up to do” after effectively parting company with the Eerste Divisie club earlier this summer.
Clough, the United manager, warned supporters to be “patient” with Higdon during the early stages of his Bramall Lane career but the player himself told The Star: “I’ve been given my own schedule so that I get right up to speed pretty soon. That’s all been sorted-out.
“When I knew I’d be leaving NEC I didn’t want to train with a club and play games in case I got injured but I’ve been working hard anyway and I’ll carry on doing the same.”
“The plan will help me get to where I want to be,” Higdon, who has signed a two year contract, added. “I feel very privileged to be here and so I’ll be giving my absolute all.
“There’s an ambition and an drive here. It’s a club that should be achieving things and the people here are determined to do exactly that.”
Diego De Girolamo and Connor Dimaio have been challenged to improve their conditioning.
The youngsters, both aged 18, feature among a group of academy graduates he believes have the potential to become regular members of his matchday squad over the course of the forthcoming campaign.
But Clough argued their performances during Saturday’s friendly against York highlighted areas where De Girolamo and Dimaio must improve to enhance their prospects.
“Diego showed some glimpses of what he’s capable of and that was good to see,” Clough said. “But his fitness levels aren’t where they need to be and the same goes for Connor.”
Clough, who expects 17-year-old Louis Reed to feature prominently during United’s push for the Championship after impressing during warm-up fixtures against Dundee, Huddersfield Town and Fenerbahce, added: “That’s why Louis is doing what he’s doing. Because he absolutely sharp in that area and it enables his talent to really come through. But he’s also got to maintain the same standards.
“All of the lads who have been given an opportunity have received them because they’ve shown themselves to be deserving of one. It comes down to attitude, ability and application but then you’ve got to maintain those.”